(HealthDay News) – Providing no-cost birth control, including long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) such as intrauterine devices or implants, substantially reduces abortion rates and teenage pregnancies compared with the national rate, according to research published online Oct 3 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

In an effort to evaluate the effect of providing women with no-cost birth control on the rate of unintended pregnancies and abortions, Jeffrey F Peipert, MD, PhD, of Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving 9,256 adolescents and women aged 14–45 years who were at risk for unintended pregnancy. Contraceptive counseling included all reversible methods and emphasized the effectiveness of LARC methods.

The researchers found that, in St. Louis, compared with Kansas City and nonmetropolitan Missouri, there was a significant reduction in the percentage of repeat abortions. In the cohort the rates of abortion were less than half the regional and national rates. Compared with the U.S. teenage birth rate of 34.1 per 1,000, within the cohort the rate was 6.3 per 1,000.

“We noted a clinically and statistically significant reduction in abortion rates, repeat abortions, and teenage birth rates,” the authors write. “Unintended pregnancies may be reduced by providing no-cost contraception and promoting the most effective contraceptive methods.”

One author disclosed financial ties to Bayer Pharmaceuticals.

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